Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What Do You Tell Them?

Our country and our family has had a barrage of tragedy and loss lately. Our family, for lack of a better phrase, is "used to it"...in a way at least. From car accidents, still births, deaths, and sicknesses our family has faced it's fair share. However, most of these events in my personal life happened pre-kids. I could react (sometimes not well) to trials without tiny people watching me. World news hit my heart and I handled it from a non-momma view point. Now I have tiny sponges following me around, learning emotions, and discovering that the world is broken. 

Last Monday, after learning that a family friend had lost her life in the Las Vegas shootings, and that Josh's cousin had been there and narrowly escaped with minimal physical injury (psychologically, the things she witnessed...can't even imagine) I was tested in my ability to hold it together. I started to cry as I stood in my kitchen holding Flash while Squeaks and Little Dude ate lunch. Their little faces watched me and Squeaks immediately wanted an explanation. "Why are you crying momma?" I searched by brain trying to decide what to tell her and I landed on the truth. "My friend died, sugar." She looked very sad and I couldn't tell if I had just overwhelmed her or not. I quickly put on a smile and said "But it's ok! I will see her again in heaven." She looked mildly reassured and said "I'm sorry your friend died." Sweet girl. Of course I left out the horrible truth that her life had been taken in a very violent way, that her husband had been present to witness it, and that she left behind three children of her own. 

Today I'm not smiling as much as usual I suppose and Squeaks is still asking "are you sad momma?" Last night Josh's aunt lost her home to  the fires in Northern California. She lost everything and only had time to gather her pets. I'm feeling helpless and I think the sadness shows on my face while I process. The news that a cousin, who is a fire fighter, is on his way to Puerto Rico to help clean up after hurricane Maria, weighs heavy on my mind. He's leaving behind (willingly and heroically) his very pregnant wife who has seen him only a handful of times since fire season broke out this year. For awhile it felt like the top half of our country was burning while the bottom half flooded. Friends and family in Florida and Texas had to evacuate and wait to see if their homes weathered the storms. Sad. I just feel sad. Lately it feels like there's a new upheaval every week, whether natural disasters or the unnatural and senseless acts of a coward in a Vegas hotel room.

Now, I know God has a plan. Past personal experience has taught me to expect redemption. Expect healing. I have hope and I know that "hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." It's just the initial blow that knocks the wind out of me for a moment. I want my children to understand that this world is not their home. We are meant for more and this world is broken because of sin. I want them to understand that following Christ while full of immeasurable blessings, also includes trials meant to grow us. But right now they are so little and so sweetly innocent; I want them to stay that way as long as possible. 

So here is my question to you. At what age did your child become aware of the heartache in this world and how did you comfort them through it? What do you tell them? Are there tools you use to impart truth and reassurance (apart from the Bible and prayer), songs or books? I'd like to know. 
I took this horribly unflattering picture of me sans-makeup with the kiddos this morning. We skipped an outing and stayed in jammies. Sometimes I just need to make my world smaller.


Monday, October 9, 2017

This Is How It Works Today

If I've learned one thing since we became a three-under-four family it's that you've gotta be flexible. I think you learn that on a small scale with your first child, a little more with your second, but with a third you just have to pray that God helps you keep them all alive and just relax.

Three kids under the age of four is a beast all it's own. There's having multiple children, and then there's having multiple children really close in age. Triplets...forget it. Just douse yourself in dry shampoo and coffee, and we'll see you in 5-10 years. Squeaks and Little Dude are 20 months apart. Little Dude and Flash are 21 months apart. And four years ago I thought I was barren. Ha!
This is a life I dreamed about, prayed for, wanted so badly that I cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion. I'm going to be honest with you (which is a phrase I rarely use because it makes me think "well, aren't you honest all the time!?") it is everything I hoped for and a million times harder than I could have ever known. Any soon to be moms out there looking for articles to read about what its like to have kids close in age or more than one or two kids, just stop looking. I could give you a description of my day, try to compare one vs. two vs. three but the truth is it's different everyday.

Because of California's wonderful FMLA (family medical leave act) Josh was able to be home with us for seven awesome weeks after Flash's birth. After that I had to figure out how to function with three kids on my own during the day and keep in mind I'm at a slight loss for digits with which to grasp tiny, crazy fast little people (Little Dude is a major runner. I no longer judge parents who use kid-leashes.) On our first outing with just me and the kids, we went to the library for story time. As anticipated Little Dude and Squeaks went in two opposite directions for most of the trip, and at one point I had to pry a screaming LD off the library computer keyboard, all while wearing my six-week old, but we did it! Every day I am thankful that God granted me a mellow third child, because if Flash was a high-maintenance kid...I don't even know. It takes me a solid twenty minutes to get everyone in their car seats and all the necessary kid paraphernalia packed in the car to go somewhere. That doesn't include the time it takes to get them all dressed, and presentable to be seen in public. Add another hour for that. The logistics of getting three small children out of the car by myself, in a busy parking lot, is a little mind-boggling sometimes. 
From our first outing to the library. Just me and the kids.
  
I use to imagine how I'd parent. There would be lots of cuddles. My kids would have manners. I would be a patient and understanding mother. My kids would be good listeners, never scream in public. I would never give my kid my phone to distract them. And of course, my house would be clean because I'd be a stay-at-home mom, just clean while they play!
Isn't she lovely!

Well, there are lots of cuddles, even if the small one being cuddled refuses. "You're being cuddled darn it! Give in! LOVE ME!" But really, all three are world class cuddlers. The rest of that list is hit or miss. Except for the clean house, that's just laughable. There are days where nothing seems to go as planned, so I am slowly but surely being broken of my need to plan. The phrase that has helped me more than any other, the one that plays through my head multiple times a day is "This is how it works today." When I need to let one kid watch Minions for the millionth time so I can get another kid to sleep or wear Flash in my Tula for his afternoon "nap". When my lunch consists of whatever was left on my kids plates after their lunch. When Flash has to stay in his swing a little longer than I'd like because Little Dude decorated an armchair with a bottle of lotion. When I let my older two dig holes all over the backyard and spread the sand from their sand table across the patio because it's giving me time to do the dishes and hey, they're happy. On those days I say "This is how it works today." and my blood pressure goes down. God has blessed me beyond measure. He has given me the exact kids I was meant to have and I am the mom He wanted them to have. Every day these three small people surprise me, make me laugh, and challenge my heart to contain the explosive force of my love for them. Every day looks different from the last. Every day could end with a long list of things I wish I could have done differently. But I am living the life I prayed for and I wouldn't change a thing... Well, I'd like to sleep more. Other than that, not a thing.
My car is slowly being swallowed by kid "stuff".
Painting rocks (and himself) on the back patio.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Flash's Birth Story

I understand a lot of my readers are from the adoption community and a birth story may not be high on your list of things you'd like to read, but I don't like the idea of separating our family story into two worlds, adoption and biological. So, although Little Dude's full birth story is on my pregnancy blog, I decided to write Flash's here. My children are all mine, no need to step lightly.

Flash was born on his due date which I think is pretty cool since it's not statistically common. I woke up that morning not expecting anything as I had only been having mild and sporadic contractions for maybe a week. I had declined my doctor's offers to check if/how much I was dilated. I remembered it being painful, and since my doctor wasn't concerned about anything, she was fine with me saying no. I had been having NSTs (non-stress tests) done twice a week as a precaution. I was scheduled for an NST that morning but since it was my due date I had to go to L&D to have it done instead of maternal-fetal medicine where NSTs are normally done. Around 10:30am the nurse hooked me up to a monitor and there I sat listening to Flash's heartbeat and movement for about half an hour. When the nurse came back she was accompanied by a doctor. A fairly pushy doctor. She did everything she could to talk me into being induced. She said "There is no medical reason for you to stay pregnant". Me- "But is there a medical reason for me to be induced?" Her- "No..." After a few more minutes back and forth I finally agreed to let her check me and do a membrane sweep. I had read that unless your body is already set to go into labor a membrane sweep is ineffective. I had one done when I was pregnant with Little Dude and nothing happened. She checked me and I was five centimeters dilated and she did the sweep. It was about noon now so Josh stopped by (he works for the hospital) and sat with me for awhile but since I wasn't in active labor (and frankly still not expecting to be) he went back to the office. They had me stay on the NST monitor for awhile longer to see if I made any progress. My contractions definitely got stronger and a little more regular but after another hour I was still at five but almost six centimeters. The doctor tried again to talk me in to induction but I was determined to experience going into labor naturally. After the doctor left the room, a very sweet nurse commended me on sticking to my guns but informed me that since this would be my third time giving birth it could go a lot quicker than I was expecting. She encouraged me to stay to be monitored at the very least. I finally agreed to take a long walk and come back to be checked again. By this time it was mid afternoon and I hadn't eaten anything so I went down to the cafeteria. Throughout this whole process I was calling Josh, my mom, my mother-in-law (who was babysitting Squeaks and Little Dude), and my friend Kristi (who is a labor and delivery nurse) to update them and get their opinions. They all encouraged me to stick to my guns and do what I was comfortable with. After walking for another hour I realized my contractions were getting much more regular. The nurse hooked me back up to the monitor and sure thing, I was in labor. I called Josh and told him to go home and get our bag because we were having a baby today! He got to the hospital about 5:00pm and my mom got there about an hour later. I managed my contractions easily for quite awhile and the three of us sat and talked happily. I felt like it was still going to be a long wait till real active labor. This couldn't possibly be as painful as it was gonna get. Around 7pm the nurse came in and had me turn onto my left side to get a better read of Flash's heart rate. My contractions got progressively more intense and Josh rubbing my back started to not help as much. At about 7:45pm I told Josh to call the nurse and tell her I want an epidural. I have felt a lot of pain in my life and consider myself to have a very high pain tolerance but this was insane and I wasn't going to torture myself if I didn't have to. Two contractions later I was screaming my head off. Suddenly I felt a pop and my water broke. I screamed louder. About five minutes later the room was full of people. I was still screaming. The nurse and Josh talked me down and suddenly I had no choice but to push. My body took over and five minutes after that, at 8:25pm, Flash was born. It turned out that his cord was super short and it actually ripped because he came out so fast, but the doctor clamped it quick and he was fine. Josh got to trim it later. Flash weighed 7lbs. 12oz and was 20" long with a perfectly round head (again because he came out so fast) and sweet baby fuzz hair. It all happened so fast! I will be eternally grateful to the nurse who convinced me to stay and be monitored. I was totally prepared to go home and wait it out. I would have had him in the car on the way to the hospital!

Flash was calm from minute one. He laid peacefully on my chest and has been an easy going quiet little guy so far. He nurses like a champ! Our hospital stay was quick and easy. We went home the next evening. I seriously could not have asked for a better delivery. God gave me everything I wanted to experience. No medication, a fast healthy delivery, and a healthy baby boy. Recovery has been a million times easier without all the meds that come with induction. I feel great! Tired but oh so happy.

This first picture was taken while the room was filled with a massive amount of noise from my other two children. And yet, there he is, sleeping peacefully. I can't believe it! And the second picture, while not my most flattering, is still one of my favorites. Holding both my boys. I have TWO boys! Blows my mind.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My Cord Of Three Strands

 Oh how I wish I hadn't fallen so far behind on posting! I miss this so much. I logged on and realized I haven't written since our pregnancy announcement LAST November! I can give all the usual excuses, most of which involve being pregnant and running after two toddlers, but I think I'll skip that and share the fun stuff first.

We had a super easy pregnancy. Aside from the fact that my hormones made me a little short tempered here and there (sorry Josh), everything was very smooth. I'd very much like to write a full post about our newest arrivals birthday. It was a very blessed day and I don't want to forget a detail. For now I'll introduce our second son (on the blog I'll call him Flash. I'll explain why in a moment) born healthy and happy one month ago! He weighed in at a strong 7lbs 12oz, 20 inches, and as sweet as can be. 

The last eight months have been packed full of family fun, challenges, and growth. Squeaks turned three!!! She has thoroughly embraced her big sister role. I truly believe she was meant to be a big sister to two boys. I was admittedly a bit sad that she wasn't getting a sister but it was short lived when I considered her personality. She was cut out for brothers. She's so independent, so smart, so clever. A sister just wouldn't fit. As usual Gods plan is perfect. I'm not the type to go into too much detail about this sort of thing, but I am VERY happy to say Squeaks is now potty trained. That was a huge goal for me. The idea of three kids in diapers, yuck.

Add in Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, my birthday (which included a ride in a helicopter!), my little brother getting married (I'm old!), and 4th of July and these past eight months have been non-stop. The number of blog posts waiting to migrate from brain to screen is nearly endless. I'm going to make a serious effort to catch up/keep up with posting because I just really miss this creative outlet.

As far as our newest and biggest family change, Flash fits right in. I'm calling him Flash after a character from one of the kids favorite movies right now, Zootopia. A super cute, very slow, sloth. I think it fits our very relaxed new little man perfectly. He is the total opposite of our energetic, never-stops-moving, mini daredevil Little Dude. Our little Flash is super content, cries only when completely necessary, and even then it's the sweetest tiniest little cry you've ever heard. He's an amazing sleeper and can sleep through a ton of noise (yay!). He is a wonderful addition to our family.

Raising three kids under four years old is challenging to say the least. Josh and I are very tired. Past tired. A little delirious at times. But we're super excited to watch them grow together and develop a strong bond. We're excited to see what God has in store, and should it cross your mind, pray we stay awake to see it.

"Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12
Our first picture as a family of five! I do believe this may be the only picture I have of Little Dude sleeping. He hadn't slept well the night before and decided this was the perfect time and place to catch up on his rest. Squeaks was ecstatic to meet her new brother and, once he woke up, Little Dude was very excited to give his brother kisses.
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